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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 124 Part II, 30 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 124 Part II, 30 June 1998

A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern
Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by
the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central,
Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia,
Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed
simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL
Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's
Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part II

* RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR LEAVES RESIDENCE, NOT MINSK

* SERBS LAUNCH OFFENSIVE TO RETAKE MINE

* EU WAITING FOR COMPLIANCE FROM BELGRADE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR LEAVES RESIDENCE, NOT MINSK. After the
Belarusian authorities cut off water and electricity to the
Drazdy complex on 29 June, the Russian ambassador left his
residence there, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Interfax.
But whereas 11 other ambassadors were recalled as a result
of the standoff between the diplomatic corps and the
Belarusian government, ambassador Valerii Loshchinin has
simply moved into an apartment elsewhere in the city. PG

KUCHMA SAYS COMMUNIST CAN BE PARLIAMENT SPEAKER. At a
meeting with leaders of the parliamentary parties on 29
June, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said that Pyotr
Simonenko, head of the Communist Party caucus, would be
acceptable if the parliament voted for him and if the right-
of-center caucuses were allowed to control at least 10 of
the 20 parliamentary committees, according to ITAR-TASS. The
other candidate in the next round of voting on 30 June is
Leonid Chernovetskiy, a member of Kuchma's own People's
Democratic Party. The parliament has been seeking to elect a
speaker since 12 May. Kuchma warned that the deadlock is
having a negative impact on Ukraine's development. PG

ARGENTINA TO HELP UKRAINE ENCASE CHORNOBYL. During an
official visit to Kyiv on 29 June, Argentinean President
Carlos Saul Menem said his country will provide financial
assistance to help build a more environmentally safe
container for the Chornobyl nuclear power station, ITAR-TASS
reported. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have shut down
reactor no. 2 for repairs at the country's Yuzhnaya atomic
energy station. Seven of Ukraine's 14 nuclear power reactors
are now undergoing repairs. PG

ESTONIAN RURAL BANK DEPOSITORS TO RECEIVE MONEY FROM FUND.
The parliament has approved a government plan whereby money
from the stabilization fund will be used to compensate
depositors with the recently liquidated Rural Bank, ETA
reported on 29 June. Some 266 million kroons ($17.7 million)
will be taken from the fund as a seven-year, interest-free
loan. Deposits of private individuals with the bank total
271 million kroons and corporate deposits 167 million. The
government, which is the largest depositor with some 500
million kroons, will be the last to receive compensation.
The parliament, for its part, has allocated 100 million
kroons from the supplementary budget to partially compensate
depositors. The Rural Bank was closed this spring after it
lost some 200 million kroons on the stock market last year.
JC

POLISH PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. On a private visit to the
Russian capital on 29 June, Aleksander Kwasniewski met with
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Russian and Polish agencies
reported. The two leaders discussed NATO expansion, over
which the two adhered to their respective positions; Kosova,
with Kwasniewski describing Russia's position as "rational";
and Belarus, where the two agreed not to try to isolate
Minsk. Yeltsin accepted an invitation to visit Warsaw in
mid-December, his first trip there since August 1993. And
the two presidents agreed to meet before 2000 to open a
memorial monument at Katyn to the Polish officers killed by
Stalin during World War II. PG

POLAND TO PUSH FOR ACCELERATED EU ENTRY TALKS. Jan
Kulakowski, Warsaw's chief negotiator with the EU, and
Ryszard Czarnecki, minister for European integration, said
on 29 June that Poland will seek to begin concrete talks
later this year on joining the EU, PAP reported. The
announcement came in response to the EU's decision to delay
such talks until sometime in 1999. Kulakowski said the move
would be coordinated with the other candidate countries at a
meeting in Ljubljana in mid-July. PG

POLISH TROOPS TO PATROL WARSAW STREETS. Responding to
popular demands for a crackdown on crime, the Polish
Interior Ministry announced on 29 June that soldiers will be
patrolling Warsaw streets this summer, Reuters reported.
This is the first time troops will be on duty there since
the introduction of martial law in 1981. The ministry denied
that the recent murder of former national police chief Marek
Papala has anything to do with the decision (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 June 1998). PG

NO PROGRESS IN CZECH COALITION TALKS. President Vaclav Havel
on 29 June met with Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml and
leader of the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) Josef
Lux. Both party leaders said after the meeting that no
progress has been made in discussions on a new coalition
government. Lux stressed that the KDU-CSL is not ready to
agree to a minority government composed of the Social
Democratic Party and his own formation that would be
tolerated in the parliament by the Communists. He also said
the Freedom Union's recent announcement that it is ready to
form a coalition with Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party
(ODS) and the KDU-CSL under certain conditions was
"premature," CTK reported. ODS deputy chairman Miroslav
Macek told CTK that he is "disappointed" that the Freedom
Union is talking about "preliminary conditions" even before
starting coalition talks with the ODS. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS LIKELY TO STALL AGAIN. Forty-
five deputies from Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) have nominated Banska
Bystrica university rector Otto Tomecek as their candidate
in the latest round of presidential elections, scheduled for
9 July, Reuters reported on 29 June. As in the previous
rounds, the opposition parties said they will block the HZDS
candidate. Without their support Tomecek cannot obtain the
minimum 90 votes needed for election. Attorney Peter Tomka,
who was backed by the Party of Democratic Left, withdrew
from the race over the weekend, saying he has no chance of
winning and that there is no point in running. MS

SLOVAKIA, RUSSIA TO SWAP ARMS QUOTAS. Slovakia and Russia on
29 June agreed to exchange their arms quotas established by
the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, ITAR-TASS
reported. Under the agreement, Slovakia will acquire another
15 fighter helicopters and Russia another 15 combat
aircraft. Defense Ministry spokesman Jaroslav Tomas told
journalists that the exchange will take place within the
next three months. He added that NATO countries frequently
redistribute quotas among themselves. MS

HUNGARIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADER. The 28 June
national congress of the Hungarian Democratic People's Party
(MDNP) elected Erzsebet Pusztai as the party's new leader.
Former party chairman Ivan Szabo, who resigned after the
party's failure to enter the parliament in the May
elections, became MDNP honorary president for life. Pusztai
said it is essential that the MDNP conclude an alliance with
other civic forces before the local elections scheduled for
this fall. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS LAUNCH OFFENSIVE TO RETAKE MINE. Serbian security
forces launched an offensive on 29 June to retake the
strategic mining town of Belacevac, near the Kosova capital
of Prishtina. Fighting initially centered around the town's
coal mine, which supplies two nearby power plants and has
been controlled by Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) forces since
last week. Detonations and gunfire continued on 30 June. The
area around the town was sealed off, and Serbian police and
Yugoslav army troops, backed up by armored personnel
carriers, moved into the area. Several buildings in the town
were reported to be ablaze. Hundreds of civilians from
Belacevac and the nearby towns of Hade and Lismir have fled
the area. There are no independent reports of casualties.
The situation in the central Kosovar town of Kijeva is
unchanged (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June 1998). PB

EU WAITING FOR COMPLIANCE FROM BELGRADE. EU foreign
ministers have called on Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic to immediately implement the pledges he made in
Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1998), including an
halt to offensives against civilians, Reuters reported on 30
June. The statement, issued after a meeting in Luxembourg,
stressed support for Kosova to be given "a large degree of
autonomy" by Belgrade. The foreign ministers also adopted a
ban on flights by the Yugoslav state airline, JAT, to EU
countries. However, a date for the ban was not agreed upon.
The foreign ministers were divided over whether to allow UCK
members to take part in peace negotiations. British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook said negotiations should be held with
ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, the "legitimate
elected leader." PB

ANNAN URGES ACTION WITH UN MANDATE. UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan on 29 June urged the international community to
move swiftly in Kosova in order to avoid a "second Bosnia."
Annan, speaking in Vienna, said the UN Security Council
would have to approve any military action in the Serbian
province. He also said he is willing to travel to Yugoslavia
if the situation calls for it. In Moscow, the Russian
Foreign Ministry said that it cannot support NATO military
action in Kosova and that Moscow expects efforts to find a
political solution to "bear fruit." PB

UCK SPOKESMAN SAYS RUGOVA OUT OF TOUCH WITH PEOPLE. Jakup
Krasniqi, a spokesman for the UCK, said on 28 June that
Kosova shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova does not have
enough "political capital" to assume control over the UCK,
Belgrade-based Radio B92 reported. Krasnici said that Rugova
has lost touch with Kosovar Albanians and that the UCK will
never be controlled by a man who has made so many
accusations against it. Rugova recently told Western
officials that he will seek to gain some influence over the
UCK (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998). Krasniqi
said the UCK has some 30,000 troops organized into three
brigades. PB

RUGOVA ADVERSARY SAYS UCK CONTROLS HALF OF KOSOVA. Adem
Demaci, leader of the Parliamentary Party of Kosova and a
rival of Rugova, said on 27 June that UCK forces control 50
percent of Kosova, the independent news agency Beta
reported. Previous reports have estimated that the UCK has
control over 30-40 percent of the province. Demaci, in an
interview published in the Croatian newspaper "Jutarnji
List," said the UCK troops control all of the main roads in
Kosova. He added that UCK forces are not attempting to take
over towns. Demaci said Rugova's policy of non-violence has
failed. Rugova and his supporters "follow fiction" but the
UCK "is a factor that has helped us return to reality," he
commented. PB

MACEDONIAN PREMIER GLOOMY ABOUT KOSOVA. Branko Crvenkovski
said in Washington that there is "not much room for
optimism" over the crisis in Kosova, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported. Speaking after a meeting with U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Crvenkovski said that
there is still hope for finding "a political solution" and
that Belgrade must give ethnic Albanians "substantive
autonomy." Ethnic Albanians make up some 25 percent of
Macedonia's population. Crvenkovski is to meet with U.S.
Vice President Al Gore, Defense Secretary William Cohen, as
well as World Bank and IMF officials during his visit. PB

MONTENEGRO ASKS PRIVATE BROADCASTERS NOT TO SIGN CONTRACTS
WITH BELGRADE. The Montenegrin government on 27 June asked
all private radio and television stations not to sign any
contracts with the federal Yugoslav authorities. The
government's Information Office issued a statement saying
that "Montenegrin radio and television stations have no
obligation toward the federal government." It added that
Belgrade's recent demand that they sign contracts to
rebroadcast a federal program was "yet another
unconstitutional attempt to centralize the information
environment in the federal Yugoslavia," RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. FS

MONTENEGRO DEFIES BELGRADE OVER PREVLAKA. Montenegrin
Foreign Minister Branko Perovic told the daily "Pobjeda" on
26 June that his government is ready to open a border
checkpoint with Croatia on Prevlaka Island even without a
final settlement over the island's border. He added that
Belgrade rejected an offer to open the checkpoint but had
not consulted Podgorica over the issue. Meanwhile, the UN
General Assembly has appointed Graham Roger Williams from
New Zealand as commander of the 28-member monitoring mission
on Prevlaka, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS

BOSNIAN SERB PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADER. The Serbian Democratic
Party's General Assembly on 28 June elected Dragan Kalinica
as chairman. Kalinica replaces Aleksa Buha, who resigned the
previous day. Buha, a close associate of indicted war
criminal and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, said he
resigned because the party has "not supported his model of
party leadership." Tanjug quoted party members as saying
that Buha is unsatisfied that his party nominated Momcilo
Krajisnik, rather than him, as a candidate for the
presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. FS

EUROPEAN OFFICIALS PUSH FOR ALBANIAN CONSTITUTION
COMPROMISE. Representatives of the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, and the
OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly were in Tirana on 29 June to
push for closer cooperation between the government and the
opposition in drafting a new constitution. After meeting
with those officials, Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Genc
Pollo admitted that his party has not kept an earlier
promise to become actively involved in the drafting process.
His party has demanded a veto in the parliamentary drafting
commission, but commission chairman Sabri Godo of the
Republican Party has rejected that proposal, "Koha Jone"
reported. FS

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT DEMANDS PARLIAMENT ACTION OVER
CONTRABAND. Rexhep Meidani on 29 June presented to the
parliament the results of an investigation into customs
evasion and smuggling, which show a considerable drop in
revenues from customs duties in the first four months of
1998 compared with the last four months of 1997 (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 25 June 1998). Parliamentary speaker Skender
Gjinushi demanded that the parliamentary commissions for
finance and the interior launch investigations into the
matter and make recommendations to restructure the customs,
police, and judicial systems, "Koha Jone" reported. FS

ROMANIAN PREMIER SKEPTICAL ABOUT SPEEDY NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Prime Minister Radu Vasile, addressing a forum of his
party's youth organization in Calimanesti on 27 June, said
it is "unlikely" that Romania will be invited to join NATO
next year and "more realistic" to view membership as
"possible" between 2000 and 2003. He said that NATO
membership remains a "major target" of Romanian policy but
that "the hysteria" that accompanied Romania's bid for
membership in 1997 must be avoided. Vasile added that he
does not believe his National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD) is able to win the next elections on its
own and that statements by PNTCD members in favor of early
elections are "inopportune." He argued that the PNTCD must
accept the idea that in the year 2000 it will also need a
coalition in order to rule, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. MS

FORMER SECURITATE AGENTS SOUGHT IN TOP LEADERSHIP. The
Supreme National Defense Council on 29 June announced it has
asked the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), the Foreign
Intelligence Service (SIE), the Interior Ministry, and the
Defense Ministry to report within 10 days whether any member
of the council had links with the communist secret police.
The same day, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously passed a
resolution demanding that the SRI do the same for its
members within two weeks. Also on 29 June, Democratic Party
deputy Adrian Vilau, whose former links with the Securitate
were recently revealed, resigned as chairman of the
chamber's commission overseeing the activity of SIE. MS

ROMANIA TO REDUCE MILITARY FORCES. Defense Minister Victor
Babiuc told journalists on 29 June that Romania's military
forces will be cut this year by some 10,000 troops. At the
end of the process, he said, the total number of troops will
be reduced to150,000. In other news, on 29 June the
parliamentary group of the Hungarian Democratic Federation
of Romania in the Chamber of Deputies submitted a draft law
for setting up a Hungarian-language university in Cluj. MS

YELTSIN RECONFIRMS RUSSIAN POSITION ON TRANSDNIESTER. In a
message to his Moldovan counterpart, Petru Lucinschi,
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has reconfirmed that Moscow
wants the sides involved in the Transdniester conflict to
"strictly abide by the May 1997 memorandum on normalizing
relations between Moldova and the Transdniester and the
March 1998 Odessa summit accords," Infotag reported on 29
June. Yeltsin's message was delivered to Lucinschi by Igor
Morozov, the Russian representative at the Chisinau-Tiraspol
negotiations. MS

WESTERN EUROPEAN UNION OFFICIALS IN BULGARIA. Parliamentary
chairman Yordan Sokolov on 29 June told a WEU delegation
that Bulgaria will comply with any decision taken by the
international community on the Kosova conflict, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Sofia reported. The delegation is also
scheduled to meet with Foreign and Defense Ministry
officials and tour military installations in Plodviv and
Karlovo. The WEU is the military arm of the EU. MS

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